Taking food, crime or call for help?
Understanding the nature of crime and why it is committed is a complex issue.
"This story goes back to Victor Hugo's novel Les Miserable, where Jean Valjean steals bread, that's 1862, so it's not a new scenario," said Hirsch Greenberg, head of justice studies department at the University of Regina.
Saskatoon police are searching for a man who stole food from a grocery store earlier this week. The suspect was holding a knife and got away on his bicycle. If he is caught, he will likely be charged with theft under $5,000.
"Maybe it's because he's broke and his family is hungry, maybe he just wanted to see if he could get away with it, I don't know," Greenberg said.
There needs to be accountability at an individual level, especially if it's an adult, said Greenberg. It's the job of police officers to catch people who are criminals and charge them with the appropriate offence.
"But if the reason for his crime is poverty, then we as a community have also a responsibility."
If you look at the timeline of a person's life - from where they are born to where they commit the offence - there are several stages in between where intervention could have happened, Greenberg said.
Aside from personality disorders, it is very rare for an offender to not have a slew of traumatic experiences. For example, 40 per cent of the male population in provincial correctional centres in this province have been through the foster home system, said Greenberg.
"Stealing from a store is not a good thing, but if they don't have any other choices or resources, then we have as a society and community responsibility to do something about making sure we don't nurture crime."
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